Fayetteville State University announced a $5 million acquisition of Bronco Square Shopping Mall on Tuesday, in addition to a new entrepreneurial hub, free-standing Chick-fil-A and a Starbucks on campus.
Chancellor Darrell Allison announced the university’s purchase and expansion at a “Changing of the Keys” ceremony in Bronco Square’s parking lot and said the school now owns 100% of the shopping center debt-free.
“We want to play our part in this city, in this region, in this county so that we can, too, be a more viable partner here,” Allison said. “As Fayetteville State grows, so does Fayetteville, so does Cumberland County, so does this region.”
The university used to own 50% of the shopping mall and Gary Ciccone, a former Fayetteville lawyer, owned the other half. Ciccone also donated $150,000 to the university at the event.
Home to a salon, barber shop and as of last year, a McAllister’s Deli, the Bronco Square Shopping Mall has had several businesses and served as an income stream to the university for 20 years. The school’s book store located at the square will be moved to the library on campus, with the space it occupied being converted into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub for small businesses in the community, Allison said.
The new hub, with a $200,000 investment from the Golden LEAF Foundation and support from the region’s state legislators, is set to open in May.
FSU’s announcement of the acquisition comes the week of the university’s homecoming, which was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and returns this year with safety guidelines for the school and community participating.
Economic expansion at FSU
Allison said homecomings are an essential part of a university’s economic impact to the school and greater community. In addition to the university being a historically Black university and asset to the city, he said the school is also an “economic engine.”
“There’s a part that we play,” Allison said. “We want to make sure that we are generating revenue and we are generating jobs, and we are creating opportunities for employment and we are producing in multiple fashions not just producing diplomas but producing dollars and resources.”
Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin, an FSU alumnus, gave remarks at the event, saying he looked forward to working with Allison on the new development.
“We made a goal as a city to prioritize the development and growing the city of Fayetteville up Murchison Road,” Colvin said. “We know that we can’t do that without meeting the stakeholders and resources.”
Colvin also said because the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted some of the greater economic and personal challenges in the community, innovation and entrepreneurship were one way to rebuild.
“The pandemic exposed some things about our community that we are a service-based, hospitality-based community,” Colvin said. “We know that this industry was robbed at the drop of a dime with the pandemic so we have to retrain and retool our people and our workforce.”
Also in attendance at the event were state Sen. Kirk deViere and Reps. Marvin Lucas and Billy Richardson. All are Democrats who respresent Cumberland County.
County Commissioner Glenn Adams, who also is chairman of the FSU board of trustees, praised the legislators’ attendance at the event.
“I think it is important for our delegation, the members of Raleigh, come on this campus and see what’s happening on this campus,” Adams said. “The economic impact of Fayetteville State University to the state of North Carolina and to Cumberland County is just phenomenal and we cannot for any instance think that it doesn’t impact us.”
Adams said the partnerships between the university, city and county government, and private investors showed that the school was “committed to the Murchison Road corridor” and the vision of Allison and the board of trustees was to “be united with this community, not just this block.”
New restaurants on campus
The new free standing Chick-fil-A will be placed at the corner of Bronco Square and the Starbucks will be built on campus, according to Trevor Ferguson, the president of higher education for Aramark, the university’s food and restaurant partner.
“The student experience is paramount to driving recruiting and retention to students here at Fayetteville State University, and we’re excited to be apart of it,” said Ferguson at the event.
The group will be working closely with the university to work out details of the new restaurants In the coming weeks, he said.
Regional Enterprise Reporter Kristen Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3570.
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